Like the Beginning, the Ending of God's Word has been spiritualized into meaning anything except what it says.
The viewpoint of End Times that prevails in the Church today — both Catholic and Protestant — is Amillennialism, the belief that there will never be a millennial reign of Jesus on this earth.
This view is based on a spiritualization of Scripture.
The Biblical View
The Bible says point blank Jesus will return to this earth to reign for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). It further states that Satan will be bound during that time (Revelation 20:1-3), and that the earth will be flooded with peace, righteousness and justice as the waters cover the seas (Isaiah 9:6-7 & Isaiah 11:9).
The Bible also teaches that at the end of that reign, this earth will be consumed with fire and out of that fiery inferno will come a new earth that will serve as the eternal home of the Redeemed (2 Peter 3:12-13 and Revelation 21:1). It also teaches that God will come down to earth and that the Redeemed will live in glorified bodies in His presence forever (Revelation 21:2-4).
The Amillennial View
The Amillennial viewpoint spiritualizes all of this.
It argues that the Millennium began at the Cross with the binding of Satan and that the Millennium continues to this day with Jesus reigning from Heaven through His Church. In other words, the Church Age is the Millennium. There is no Rapture in this viewpoint, nor is there any Great Tribulation.
Most Amillennialists would further argue that when Jesus returns, He will simply appear and then take all believers, both living and dead, back to Heaven with Him to live eternally in an ethereal spirit world.
The problems with this view are overwhelming.
1) If we are in the Millennium now, why isn't the world flooded with peace, righteousness and justice?
2) If Jesus is reigning now, why is He doing such a poor job? After all, every nation in the world is in rebellion against Him. And if He is reigning now as King of kings, then why does the Bible portray Him instead as our High Priest before God's throne? (Hebrews 3:1 and Hebrews 4:14-16).
The Bible says Jesus came the first time as our Savior. He currently serves as our High Priest. He will return as our King of kings.
3) If Satan is bound now, then why does evil abound in the world, and why do Scriptures written long after the Cross portray him as continuing to be the ruler of this world?
Furthermore, the Bible says Satan is going to be bound in a special way during the Millennium. He will be restrained so that he can no longer deceive the nations of the world. Yet, everywhere we look today, we see nations deceived.
4) What would God have to do to convince us that Jesus is returning to reign for a thousand years?
Repeatedly throughout the Old Testament we are told that the Messiah will reign over all the world from Mount Zion in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 7:13-14, 18, 27; and Micah 4:1-7). And in chapter 20 of the book of Revelation we are told six times that His reign will last 1,000 years.
5) Finally, how do you explain eternity in an ethereal world as a spirit being when the Bible says we will live forever in glorified bodies on a new earth? (Revelation 21:1-7).
It all comes down to a matter of interpretation.
As with the interpretation of the beginning of the Bible, the interpretation of the ending depends upon whether you are going to accept the plain sense meaning of the text or whether you are going to insist on spiritualizing the text to mean what you want it to mean.
I believe the fundamental rule for the interpretation of all the Bible, from beginning to end should be what I call the Golden Rule of Interpretation:
If the plain sense makes sense, don't look for any other sense, lest you end up with nonsense.
Furthermore, when it comes to the interpretation of prophecy, there is a fundamental fact that must be kept in mind — namely, all First Coming prophecies were literally fulfilled in their plain sense meaning. Why, then, would the Second Coming prophecies be any different?
The bottom line is that we need to stop playing games with God's Word. We need to accept it for what it says — and stop trying to make excuses for it.
Hundreds of times, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the claim is made that the writers of the Bible are speaking the Word of God (1 Samuel 9:27 and Hebrews 4:12). If so, then what they wrote must be without error, for God cannot lie, nor can He make mistakes.
I therefore challenge you to accept the Bible for what it claims to be — the Word of God — and I challenge you to believe it for what it says.
And I want to conclude by emphasizing that my challenge to you to accept the Bible for what it claims to be, and to believe it for what it says, is a challenge that comes directly from Jesus Christ Himself. Here is what He is recorded as saying in John 5:46-47:
"...if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
Moses was the one who wrote the book of Genesis. We need to believe what he wrote.
Your Christian faith will have full meaning only when you believe that the universe and the life it contains was supernaturally created by God for a purpose.
And you will never experience the fullness of Christian hope until you start believing the promises of God's Prophetic Word.
The Beginning and the Ending —
May God forgive us for ignoring them.
May God forgive us for abusing them.
May God forgive us for playing games with them.
May we commit ourselves to their revival in the teaching and preaching programs of our churches.
God was there at the beginning. He will be there at the end. He holds the whole universe in His hands. Let us find peace in the knowledge that He is sovereign.
"My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5)